Brisbane drivers have been paying 3.3 cents per litre too much in the past year. Together they spend $50 million more on petrol each year than motorists in other capital cities. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says fuel retailers have, for eight years, been enjoying high prices at the expense of motorists.
Lack of competition
The main reason is lack of competition. Brisbane has lost half of its small independent petrol retailers since June 2007. Only four are left: Freedom Fuels, Puma Energy, 7-Eleven and United. Sydney, for example, has seven independent chains that aim to sell competitively priced petrol.
Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACPMA) defends the higher prices. It says service stations are just businesses like others: “Fuel businesses discount very heavily where there’s aggressive competition and they discount less heavily where the competition isn’t as intense”.
On top of that, Queensland motorists cannot always rely on the prices advertised on the board.
The Qld government recently stepped in to stop motorists from being misinformed by fuel prices on the board. A new regulation will start from 31 January 2018 to:
- Ban the display of conditionally discounted prices on fuel price boards, such as prices only available with discount vouchers or in-store purchase
- Coordinate price changes so motorists never pay more than the price advertised on the board.
ACCC says Brisbane motorists can certainly save money if they use fuel apps to check for the cheapest prices. For example, RACQ’s Fuel Price Advice.
If motorists become choosier about where they buy fuel, retailers may be choosier about how they price it.